NEWS RELEASE: Multnomah County Board of Commissioners approves $3.96 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2025

June 6, 2024

This release has been updated to reflect Commissioner Stegmann's full amendment list.

The Board of Commissioners today approved a $3.96 billion balanced budget that holds Multnomah County services and staff steady for the coming year, while adding critical resources to improve living conditions across the community.

The Fiscal Year 2025 budget funds Chair Jessica Vega Pederson’s intense efforts to increase homeless and behavioral health services. It fully funds the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, and the County’s specialty courts, jails, and adult parole and probation programs. The budget also supports core County programs serving people from infancy to old age to improve their lives and create a more equitable and fair community.

“What do we want our community to be?” Chair Vega Pederson asked. “I believe we want a County where people both feel safe and are safe. Where our neighbors are housed. Where people both in and out of crisis have access to the services and support that they need to be healthy and thrive. Where our kids have joyful preschool experiences and our schools unite our neighborhoods. This budget is our vision and this Board’s commitment to getting there. And it directly responds to our community’s call.”

Developing the 2025 budget was particularly challenging, as federal COVID-19 dollars ended, state funding shrank, City of Portland funding for the Joint Office of Homeless Services was reduced, and personnel and other costs rose.

The Chair hosted a budget town hall in February to gather community input, and the Board held more than 60 hours of public meetings in 21 public work sessions and three public hearings where dozens of people testified. More than 1,000 people completed an online budget survey, identifying the following issues as their highest priority:

  • Homelessness and behavioral health services
  • Mental health and substance use supports
  • Multnomah County Sheriff Office’s role providing public safety
  • Positive impacts of Preschool for All for youth and families
  • Value of Library services

Commissioner Sharon Meieran

Most of the County’s nearly $4 billion budget comes from funding sources that must be used for specific purposes, such as road funds. The Board’s months of consideration largely focused on how the County should spend its $889 million General Fund — the largest pool of discretionary funds that Commissioners can allocate. The General Fund has remained steady, even as community need has continued to grow.

Beginning Thursday morning at their regular weekly meeting, Commissioners worked through 57 proposed Board amendments to the proposed Executive Budget released April 25. The Board approved 38 amendments, accommodating requests and adjustments brought by every member. The full list of amendments is here. 

Adopted Board amendments include:

  • Commissioner Sharon Meieran’s amendments restore $350,000 for STI Clinic services and $150,000 for mitigating toxic algae blooms.
  • Commissioner Jesse Beason’s amendments cover $185,000 for the County’s public records program staff and $325,000 for Project Reset, a partnership to help residents remove barriers to housing and employment through fee waivers and expungement services.
  • Commissioner Julia Brim-Edwards’ amendments add $907,741 for deputies and human resources staff to hire more Corrections Deputies, $782,000 for additional legal and data staff in the District Attorney’s Office, $50,000 for economic development and with the Chair’s Office, assured $150,000 for permitting and planning to deconstruct the blighted Hansen Building in southeast Portland with a $550,000  earmark of General Fund contingency for additional work, $1 million for shelter expansion.
  • Commissioner Lori Stegmann’s amendments provide $100,000 to spark economic development of the 60-acre Vance property in Gresham, $180,000 for increased food security in East County, $580,000 which restores in-courtroom eviction prevention with an expansion to five day a week service, $50,000 to increase strategic capacity for homeless response in partnership with East Multnomah County jurisdictions who received nearly $1 million as a result of her advocacy in the executive budget and, in partnership with Commissioner Beason, $330,000 for the Department of Community Justice’s Community Healing Initiatives Early Intervention program.

Commissioner Jesse Beason

The full list of FY2025 Board Amendments (59.88 KB). Board also approved 59 department-submitted amendments and 21 budget notes

The final spending plan, adopted 4-1 with those amendments and notes, will fund the work of 11 County departments and nearly 6,000 full-time employees, as well as the work of public offices led by three independently elected officials: Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell, District Attorney Mike Schmidt and Auditor Jennifer McGuirk. It finances operations from July 1, 2024, through June 30, 2025.

Chair Vega Pederson and Commissioners Beason, Brim-Edwards and Stegmann voted to approve the spending package. Commissioner Meieran voted against.

The Chair thanked her fellow elected officials, Budget Director Christian Elkin, County Economist Jeff Renfro, County staff, and the community for their work on, and contributions to, the spending plan.

“Thank you to every single individual who attended our budget town hall, took our budget survey, showed up to testify, reached out to make sure your voice was heard and invested time and energy in this process,” said Chair Vega Pederson. “You help make our County a better place.”

Improving conditions on the streets

The budget reflects the Chair’s promise and Board’s partnership to successfully move even more people into shelter and housing over the coming fiscal year. It includes a 24% increase in homeless services across all funding sources, directing a total of $285 million to priorities such as housing placements, rent assistance and support services for people experiencing homelessness.

This includes $127 million to support the new Homelessness Response Action Plan, a strategic reset and expansion of the community’s response to homelessness announced in March by Chair Vega Pederson and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

The plan calls for local and state government, service providers and healthcare organizations to work together to shelter or house an additional 2,700 people by Dec. 31, 2025. It builds from a Portland/Gresham/Multnomah County Community Sheltering Strategy that calls for adding 1,000 shelter beds in two years, including new and planned beds, and it proposes adding hundreds more behavioral health beds. The plan has new metrics and focuses on priority populations who are disproportionately affected by homelessness, including people of color, and people who are LGBTQIA2S+.

“We’re not letting a single shelter bed close,’’ said Chair Vega Pederson. “We’re creating a stronger, more geographically diverse shelter system that meets people where they are.’’

The budget also includes direct support for East County communities, complementing an ongoing expansion of services east of Portland: $600,000 for outreach case management and housing placement within the City of Gresham and an additional $300,000 for outreach and rent assistance in the cities of Fairview, Wood Village and Troutdale. It includes a total of $580,000 to prevent evictions by providing courtroom support.

Commissioner Julia Brim-Edwards

Behavioral health

In addition to braiding behavioral health investments throughout the budget, this year’s investments continue street- and community-level behavioral health support services through Supportive Housing Services programming and through the County’s crisis system of care.

It funds new efforts to address the fentanyl crisis — combining investments from the County General Fund, the State of Oregon and the City of Portland into a $32.5 million deflection and recovery package ($26.5 million from the County and $6.5 million in state funding to the Health Department)

Deflection is an intervention that can be offered before an arrest or as a pathway for someone to receive treatment and services instead of going to jail. The Board’s investments will support the County’s work to develop a 24/7 dropoff and receiving center by Sept.1 that includes sobering services, with transportation and security. These funds will also support public education and allow the County to track and assess the impacts of House Bill 4002 on the community.

The budget also builds on what’s already making a difference in Multnomah County. That includes $9.3 million for daily operations at the Behavioral Health Resource Center, including its day center, shelter and transitional housing programs. In its first year, the Center served more than 3,750 unique individuals with peer-led services, hygiene access, system referrals and other services. The budget also supports a new Health Department data analyst to convene, coordinate and support the finalization of a Comprehensive Local Plan for mental health. 

Commissioner Lori Stegmann

Increasing community safety

The budget fully funds the County’s parole and probation program, and the Sheriff’s Office, including three new human resources positions in the Sheriff’s Office to help reverse staff shortages caused by a swell of retirements of staff hired in the 1990s. The budget adds a sheriff’s deputy to handle gun dispossession. It also strengthens services for adults in custody, with new Corrections Health staff to increase oversight and care coordination. 

The budget also supports the District Attorney with an additional Deputy District Attorney and an additional position in the Victim Assistance Program, and by continuing the County’s investment in a successful retail and auto theft teams. 

Since June 2022, the Chair and Board have wrangled with the County’s contracted ambulance provider being unable to respond to calls in the time required by the contract it signed. This budget includes funding to conduct a full assessment of the County’s Ambulance Service Plan, the policy document that outlines key features of Multnomah County’s Emergency Medical Services system. 

Additional key investments 

  • Elections: The budget calls for a $1.4 million in one-time-only funds for the Elections Division to prepare staff and voters for ranked choice voting, charter reform and the 2024 presidential election. It also includes new funding to explore a partnership with the City of Portland’s Small Donor Elections program to reduce barriers for everyday people to run for elected office. 
  • Animal Services: The budget directs an additional $300,000 to emergency medical and spay and neutering services, as well as three additional field services officers. 
  • Algae bloom: Following community feedback, the budget provides $150,000 to address the increasing number of toxic algae blooms forming in the Willamette River by funding 30% of the design costs to implement the Ross Island Lagoon River Flow Project led by Oregon State University.
  • Nurse Family Partnership: The budget allocates $3 million to maintain funding for home visiting programs to improve access to care, increased community engagement, and the development of a financially sustainable model for expansion. The Legislature also recently approved limited statewide funding for the local match to these programs, and this budget gives flexibility to explore the potential of additional services that may serve more families.
  • Future Generations Collaborative: Stabilizes funding for the first and only Native American and Alaska Native program funded by the Multnomah County Public Health Division, preserving a Community Health Worker position and staffing support. Future Generations Collaborative provides programming at Barbie’s Village, a Native-specific transitional housing tiny village that centers Indigenous values.

You can watch a video of the Board’s deliberations and meeting here.

Budget Director Christian Elkin and Economist Jeff Renfro.

Commissioner Meieran expressed disappointment with the budget: “I want to say directly to all the service providers and volunteers out there doing the front line work every day — this budget represents the failure of the County as a government, not the failure of the people the County employs. There are an incredible number of people out there even as I speak dedicated to helping others, and they are amazing human beings. They are being failed by their leadership who does not seem to understand that we have an obligation to outline and implement a coherent plan, not to try to obscure accountability and hide failure. After eight years, in the end, I can only say this: I regret only that I have but one no vote to give to my County.’’

Commissioner Beason said: 

“I commend and appreciate the Chair, my colleagues and all our County employees who have been deeply engaged in this process. There are so many things in this budget that I am excited to see bear fruit, even if I’m not on the dais to see it. But like so many constituents of this County, I am counting on us and believing in us to see it through.”

“I’m going to vote for this budget because we need to keep moving,” Commissioner Brim-Edwards said. “And I will be pushing for us to continue the strategic work that needs to happen so that we are using our funding in a way that makes measurable, sustained progress on homelessness, improved access to alcohol and drug treatment, services, and safer neighborhoods.” 

“As the largest safety net provider in Oregon, we are often the last resort for many people,’’ Commissioner Stegmann said. “I am so proud of the work we do to help people on their worst day. In an increasingly isolated and fractured world, I cannot think of anything more important and noble than helping people rise above the challenges that come their way.” 

In closing, Chair Vega Pederson said, “Today we’ve finalized the blueprint that clearly demonstrates how passionately this Board and I feel about this community.”

You can read Board members’ full remarks: Chair Jessica Vega Pederson's Prepared FY 2025 Budget Remarks (94.66 KB), Commissioner Sharon Meieran Prepared FY 2025 Budget Remarks (56.29 KB), Commissioner Jesse Beason Prepared FY 2025 Budget Remarks (51.44 KB), Commissioner Julia Brim-Edwards Prepared FY 2025 Budget Remarks (66.8 KB)  Commissioner Lori Stegmann Prepared FY 2025 Budget Remarks (100.23 KB).